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ברית מילה ועבודת הקרבנות

הטור ביו”ד רס׳׳ה ס׳ ט׳ כתב את מנהג בעל העיטור שאבי הבן עומד על המוהל להודיעו שהוא שלוחו, כדאמרינן לגבי קרבן אפשר שיהא קרבנו של אדם קרב והוא אינו עומד על גביו. וכן איתא בשו׳׳ע  שם, והוסיף הגר׳׳א שמקורו במ׳׳ר פר׳ אמור כז יא: א”ר יצחק משפט אדם ומשפט בהמה שוים משפט אדם (ויקרא יב, ג) “וביום השמיני ימול בשר ערלתו” ומשפט בהמה “ומיום השמיני והלאה ירצה” כלומר אם הבאת לפני קרבן ברצון ובטובה הוא קרבני ואם באונס על כרחך איני מעלה לך שתקריב לפני אלא אשה לה’ ודכוותה (במדבר כח, ב) “צו את בני ישראל ואמרת אליהם את קרבני לחמי לאשי” מאי “לאשי” אמר להם הקדוש ברוך הוא אם הבאתם ברצון ובטובה הוא קרבני ואם באונס הרי הוא “לאשי” ואינו לשם.

ובסידורי עדות המזרח מובא קטע מהזוהר, פָּתַח אִידָךְ וְאָמַר (שמות כ) מִזְבַּח אֲדָמָה תַּעֲשֶׂה לִי וְזָבַחְתָּ עָלָיו אֶת עֹלֹתֶיךָ וְאֶת שְׁלָמֶיךָ וְגו’. תָּאנָא כָּל מַאן דְּקָרִיב בְּרֵיהּ לְקָרְבָּנָא דָא, כְּאִלּוּ אַקְרִיב כָּל קָרְבָּנִין דְּעָלְמָא לְקַמֵּיהּ דְּקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא, וּכְאִילּוּ בָּנֵי מַדְבְּחָא שְׁלֵימָתָא קַמֵּיהּ. בְּגִינֵי כָךְ בָּעֵי לְסַדְּרָא מַדְבְּחָא בְּמָאנָא חַד מַלְיָיא אַרְעָא לְמִגְזַר עֲלֵיהּ הַאי קְיָימָא קַדִּישָׁא, וְאִתְחַשִּׁיב קַמֵּי קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא כְּאִלּוּ אַדְבַּח עֲלֵיהּ עִלַוָּון וְקָרְבָּנִין עָאנָא וְתוֹרֵי…

ואבי הבן מתפלל ש״תְהֵא מִצְוָה זוֹ חֲשׁוּבָה לְפָנֶיךָ כְּרֵיחַ נִיחוֹחַ,״ והמוהל מתפלל ״וִיהֵא רַעֲוָא דְּקֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא בְּהַאי קָרְבָּנָא וְיִתְרְעִי בֵּהּ,״ והסנדק מתפלל ״הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָּא לִהְיוֹת סַנְדָּק וְאֶהְיֶה כִּסֵּא וּמִזְבֵּחַ לַעֲשׂוֹת עַל יְרֵכַי הַמִּילָה. וִיהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מִזְבַּח כַּפָּרָה,״ והביא הרמ׳׳א המנהג לכבד סנדק חדש, כעין ״חדשים לקטורת״ במקדש.

וכמו הרבה מושגים קבלתיים, עניין השוואת המילה לעבודת הקרבנות יוצא גם מהקשר הפסוקים וגם מהשוואות הלכתיות רבות.

אצל אברהם, נתינת הארץ לזרעו נקראת הברית, ותרתי משמע שהנתינה לעולם ושהיא מותנית על קיום הברית, ובברית בין הבתרים בישר הקב׳׳ה לאברהם שיזכו ע׳׳י עבודת הקרבנות, ולאחר זמן צוה אותו על ברית המילה, ושוב בהבטחת הארץ. וכן זכה אברהם אבינו להקריב עוד קרבנות במעמד שלשת המלאכים אחרי שהוא מל את עצמו. נמצא ששתי המצוות שנצטווה לקיים בבנו המיוחד, המילה וההקרבה, נהיו שני נסיונותיו הגדולים.

ובהיות שעם ישראל זוכה לנחול את הארץ על ידי שתי מצוות אלו, נוסח תפילות המוספים מזכיר עניין קיבוץ הגלויות, וכן הברכה אחרי המילה: עַל כֵּן בִּשְׂכַר זֹאת אֵ-ל חַי חֶלְקֵנוּ צוּרֵנוּ, צִוה לְהַצִּיל יְדִידוּת שְׁאֵרֵנוּ מִשַּׁחַת לְמַעַן בְּרִיתוֹ אֲשֶׁר שָׂם בִּבְשָׂרֵנוּ. והצלת ישראל היא קבוץ הגלויות, שנאמר ואמרו הושיענו א-להי ישענו וקבצנו והצילנו מן הגוים להדות לשם קדשך להשתבח בתהלתך.

לפני יציאת מצרים, שתי מצוות הללו זיכו את עם ישראל:

“וָאֶעֱבֹר עָלַיִךְ וָאֶרְאֵךְ מִתְבּוֹסֶסֶת בְּדָמָיִךְ וָאֹמַר לָךְ בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי וָאֹמַר לָךְ בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי” רבי מתיא בן חרש אומר הרי הוא אומר “וָאֶעֱבֹר עָלַיִךְ וָאֶרְאֵךְ וְהִנֵּה עִתֵּךְ עֵת דֹּדִים” (יחזקאל טז ח). הגיע שבועתו שנשבע הקב”ה לאברהם שיגאל את בניו ולא היה בידם מצות שיתעסקו בהם כדי שיגאלו שנאמר… ואת ערום ועריה וגו’ ערום מכל מצות. נתן להם הקדוש ברוך הוא שתי מצות דם פסח ודם מילה שיתעסקו בם כדי שיגאלו שנאמר ואעבור עליך ואראך מתבוססת בדמיך…”

(מכילתא דרבי ישמעאל בא – מס’ דפסחא בא פרשה ה ד”ה והיה לכם)    

וכן לכשנכנסו לארץ, מיד  הגיעו לגלגל, העמידו המשכן, ונימולו והקריבו קרבן הפסח: וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר-תַּמּוּ כָל-הַגּוֹי, לְהִמּוֹל; וַיֵּשְׁבוּ תַחְתָּם בַּמַּחֲנֶה, עַד חֲיוֹתָם. וַיֹּאמֶר ה׳ אֶל-יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, הַיּוֹם גַּלּוֹתִי אֶת-חֶרְפַּת מִצְרַיִם, מֵעֲלֵיכֶם; וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא, גִּלְגָּל, עַד, הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה. וַיַּחֲנוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בַּגִּלְגָּל; וַיַּעֲשׂוּ אֶת-הַפֶּסַח בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ, בָּעֶרֶב–בְּעַרְבוֹת יְרִיחוֹ. 

ומצנו שכל ההלכות הנוגעות למעשה המילה ישנן אצל כלל הקרבנות:

כמו שראינו לעיל, רק בן ח׳ ימים ראוי למילה, ורק בהמה בת ח׳ ימים נרצית לקרבן.

אצל הקרבנות, עיקר העבודה הוא בדם, ואצל המילה העיקר הוא הדם, כמדרש לעיל, ונפקא מינה לגר שכבר נימול והנולד מהול, שמטיפים מהם דם הברית מכל מקום.

רק קרבנות שהם תמימים קרבים, ואברהם צווה להתהלך לפני ה׳ ולהיות תמים, ודברי המדרש שם, התהלך לפני במצות מילה, ובדבר הזה תהיה תמים, שכל זמן שהערלה בך אתה בעל מום לפני.

המקריב קרבן חוגג יום טוב פרטי, וכן המל את הבן יום טוב הוא לו, ונפקא מינה לאיסור תענית.

עבודת הקרבנות והמילה דוחות את השבת בזמנן.

שתיהן מצוותן רק ביום, וזריזים מקדימים למצוות על הבוקר.

הכל מלים, כולל נשים ועבדים, וכן הכל שוחטים את הקרבנות.

מברכים על כל המצוות עובר לעשייתן, אבל מברכים דברי שבח על המילה גם לאחריה, ועל היין, כמו שמקריבים את הנסכים אחרי בקרבן, ןהשירה בשעת הניסוך.

קרבן פסח והמילה הן שתי המצוות עשה שעונשן בהכרת.

לכן, המילה היא אחריות הפרט לקיים את הברית, ובית דין מתערבים אם יסרב, והקרבנות הם אחריות הציבור לקיים הברית, ויש לפרט חלק בהם.

וכתב הרמב׳׳ם בשלשה דברים נכנסו ישראל לברית במילה וטבילה וקרבן: מילה היתה במצרים שנאמר וכל ערל לא יאכל בו מל אותם משה רבינו… וטבילה היתה במדבר קודם מתן תורה שנאמר וקדשתם היום ומחר וכבסו שמלותם וקרבן שנאמר וישלח את נערי בני ישראל ויעלו עולות ע”י כל ישראל הקריבום. וכן לדורות כשירצה הנכרי להכנס לברית ולהסתופף תחת כנפי השכינה ויקבל עליו עול תורה צריך מילה וטבילה והרצאת קרבן ואם נקבה היא טבילה וקרבן שנאמר ככם כגר מה אתם במילה וטבילה והרצאת קרבן אף הגר לדורות במילה וטבילה והרצאת קרבן.

וקדושת ישראל נובעת משתי מצוות אלו, וכולם מצאנו אצל אברהם אבינו, והיכן טבילתו? מסביר הזוהר: וְאַבְרָהָם וְשָׂרָה הֲווּ מְתַקְּנֵי טְבִילָה לְכֻלְהוּ, אִיהוּ לְגַבְרֵי וְאִיהִי לְנַשֵּׁי. מַאי טַעְמָא אִעֲסַק אַבְרָהָם לְדַכָּאָה לִבְנִי נָשָׁא, בְּגִין דְּאִיהוּ טָהוֹר וְאִקְרֵי טָהוֹר. דִּכְתִיב, (איוב יד) מִי יִתֵּן טָהוֹר מִטָּמֵא לא אֶחָד. טָהוֹר דָּא אַבְרָהָם דְּנָפַק מִתֶּרַח.

וביצחק, וַיַּחְפְּרוּ עַבְדֵי-יִצְחָק, בַּנָּחַל; וַיִּמְצְאוּ-שָׁם–בְּאֵר, מַיִם חַיִּים. וַיִּבֶן שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ, וַיִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם ה׳, וַיֶּט-שָׁם, אָהֳלוֹ; וַיִּכְרוּ-שָׁם עַבְדֵי-יִצְחָק, בְּאֵר. וכמו שראינו, אהל האבות היה המקדש, ובגלל זה המזבח תמיד לידו, ושם התפילה, והבאר סימן גם למקום תלמוד תורה וגם לטהרת הקודש.

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The Connection Between Circumcision and the Sacrifices

 

If you open up a traditional Edot Hamizrah prayer book and look for the pre-circumcision rites, you will find a recitation from the Zohar that equates the father’s voluntarily bringing his son to the circumcision with an act of animal sacrifice. Thereafter, you will find a prayer for the father to recite, which asks that God accept the father’s act as a “fragrant aroma,” the biblical term used to describe a sacrifice that is accepted with favor, and a prayer for the sandak to recite, that he serve as a proper altar. In the Shulhan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 264) it is written that if the father is not the mohel, he should stand over the mohel and observe the circumcision, because as the Vilna Gaon cites from the Tur, how can it be someone’s sacrifice is offered without him attending it? The Vilna Goan also points to a midrash in Wayiqra Rabba (Emor 27) that draws a halachic similarity between the animal intended for sacrifice and the child to be circumcised. Like many other kabbalistic ideas and concepts we have seen before, this one is implied by a careful reading of the relevant verses, the midrashic material, and, most importantly, the halacha, which, like in previous instances, draws an equivalence between sacrifice and circumcision.

The connections begin in Abraham’s story: At first He was instructed to just go to the land God would show him (Genesis 12:1), and when he got there, God promised the land to his descendants (12:7). Later, God also promised the land to Abraham himself (13:15). Still later, God initiated a covenant with Abraham (15:18), to give the land of Canaan to him and his descendants, a covenant meaning that the gift would be eternal, and that  it would be on condition that the people keep their side of the deal. As alluded to by the prophetic account of the covenant between the parts, Abraham was taught that the Jewish people would merit the land through their offering of the Temple sacrifices. Then, some years later, God added another condition: that His people should circumcise themselves (17:10). Abraham dutifully did so, and three days later he was awarded by having the opportunity to once again offer sacrifice, but this time in the presence of three angelic visitors. Ultimately, the two commandments that Abraham performed on God’s command, as tests of his faith, were to circumcise his son and to bring him as a sacrifice.

Therefore, because it is in the merit of both the sacrifices and circumcision that the Jewish people earn the right to posses the land of Israel, the texts of the prayers corresponding to the musafim invoke the ingathering of the exiles, and the post-circumcision blessing does likewise:

Therefore, in this merit O’ living God, our portion, our redeemer, commanded to save our dear remnant from destruction for the sake of the sign of the covenant He sealed in our flesh.

Saving the Jewish people is a liturgical expression for to the in gathering of the exiles, as I Chronicles 16:35: 

And say: ‘Save us, O God of our salvation, And gather us together and deliver us from the nations, That we may give thanks unto Your holy name, That we may triumph in Your praise.”

Later, we see that the commandment of circumcision directly connects to the fundamental paschal sacrifice,* both before the Exodus (12:43) and upon the begining of Joshua’s conquest (Joshua 5:1-10), and we find the words of the midrash to Ezekiel 16:6 that connects these two commandments: Rabbi Matthew ben Harash said that when the time came for the Exodus from Egypt, the Lord found the Israelites bereft of commandments to perform in order to merit redemption, and He therefore gave them the commandments of the blood of sacrifice and the blood of circumcision.

Most importantly, the halacha seems to equate circumcision with sacrifice, as all the laws of circumcision that have to do with the act have their parallel in the laws of sacrifices:

With regard to sacrifices, the main act is the ritual of the blood, which has to be received by the priest and thrown on the altar, while with regard to circumcision, the drawing of the blood is the main act, and therefore in cases where there is no foreskin, for example a child born without one or a convert who had previously been circumcised, blood must at least be drawn. 

Only animals at least eight days old may be brought as sacrifices, and only children at least eight days old are eligible for circumcision.

Only animals that are tamim, flawless, are to be made into sacrifices, and Abraham, when he was first given the commandment, was bidden to “walk before me and be tamim,” and as Rashi explains according to our sages, one who has a foreskin is considered to be blemished.

One who brings a sacrifice to the Temple celebrates the day as a personal yom tov, and one who circumcises his son has a personal yom tov, meaning that he is exempted from a public fast and its attendant prohibitions if it is on his yom tov.

The acts of circumcision and sacrifice override the Sabbath and yom tov when they are performed at their prescribed times.

Both are performed only during the day time, and ideally right at the begining of the day, and both should be done as soon as possible.

Circumcisions may be performed by any adult Jews, which technically includes women and “Canaanite” slaves, and similarly, the slaughter of all sacrifices may be performed by all.

Thus, circumcision is the only commandment that not only has blessings to be recited before the performance of the act, it has a blessing to be recited upon a cup of wine afterward, just like the sacrifices have a pre-performance blessing recited by the attending priests, and are followed by the singing of psalms upon the offering of the accompanying libations.

The bringing of the annual paschal sacrifice and the rite of circumcision are the only positive commandments that carry the penalty of kareth, excision from the rest of the nation, for one who fails to perform them.

We thus see that the sacrifices are the communal obligation to uphold the covenant, although each individual has a share in contributing toward the purchase of the sacrifices, while circumcision is the obligation incumbent on each every individual, although the authorities can and should intervene.

We also find that (Laws of Forbidden Relations 13):

 

Israel entered the covenant [with God] with three acts: circumcision, immersion, and offering a sacrifice. Circumcision took place in Egypt… Immersion was performed in the desert before the Giving of the Torah… Sacrifices [were also offered then], as [ibid. 24:5] states: “And he sent out the youth of the children of Israel and they brought burnt offerings…” For [all] future generations, when a gentile desires to enter into the covenant, take shelter under the wings of the Divine presence, and accept the yoke of the Torah, he must undergo circumcision, immersion, and the offering of a sacrifice.

That is, these two commandments are the ones that affect the sanctification of the individual as a Jew, and therefore we find all of these factors regarding Abraham and Isaac, whose acts of circumcision and sacrifice were mentioned above, and whose immersions in the purifying miqweh waters are also alluded to in the verses. With regards to Abraham, he invited his guests to “wash your feet and recline under the tree,” on which the Zohar comments that Abraham regularly encouraged his guests, that is, those who he wished to convert to monotheism, to wash themselves in the waters found near his tree, while with regard to Isaac we read that “Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found there a well of living waters… And he built an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well,”** which plainly refers to a source of drinking water, but midrashically/metaphorically refers to a place of Torah study or slightly more literally, to a place of ritual immersion and purification. 

*As I was preparing this for publication, I just read this. If any of my readers know how to bring this to Rabbi Ziegler’s attention it would really help me.

** These verses also allude to the fact that Isaac’s tent, like that of his father’s, was a microcosm of the Temple: the altar was built outside of the tent, and there his students established a place of Torah study.

 

Q&A:Guard Yourselves Very Well

Question: Im yirtzeh Hashem, we will soon be celebrating our son’s bris, but I am worried about some of my wife’s relatives coming. They do not vaccinate their children, and I am scared that they could bring measles into the shul or hall, and endanger my family. What do I do?

(The questioner lives in Brooklyn, NY.)

Answer: First, pray for mercy. The recent news of measles outbreaks in large and prominent Jewish communities in Israel and America has created one of the worst desecrations of God’s name in history. Horrible diseases that God granted us the ability to eradicate have been brought back in the all of their horrifying fury due to a misguided application of allegedly Torah-based ideals and ideologies. The sad truth is that even if certain men are very wise in Torah, if they are not experts on certain matters, they should not express opinions on them. Rabbis should never use their authority as talmudists, halachists, or kabbalists to get involved in either politics or public health, for example. In the last weeks we have unfortunately been witness to many incidents of both, and we have seen the horrible outcomes.

Similarly, this week we have seen truly heartbreaking incidences of refusals to heed the basic commandment of w’nishmartem m’od, “guard yourselves very well,” the injunction to avoid danger by taking the necessary precautions. Last night I visited the home of the vanished Attar family of Psagot, a shiv’a the likes of which I have never seen. Because the entire family was wiped out at once by one man’s callous negligence, only the siblings of the parents were there to sit shiva, and there were no parents weeping over children, nor orphaned children weeping over parents, and it is well know that the parent-child relationship and the inverse grieving are much stronger than the sibling equivalents. The house was as the family had left it when they embarked on their trip, and now it is frozen in time, suddenly with no one to make heads or tails out of all that they left in this world. It was something out of an apocalyptic vision. Tragic in its silence, and silent in its paradoxical simplicity and complexity. The rabbi accompanying us summed it up nicely: “What do you say and to whom do you say it? There is so much nothing to say…”

But life-threatening irrationality disguised as legitimate halachic or medical opinions is making a comeback, and it just keeps getting worse, as today I was horrified to learn that the practice of human placentophagy is being both advocated and practiced in my own town, even though it is borderline insanity and the perfect example of a biblical curse (Deuteronomy 28:57), and I read this by Rabbi Enkin:

It was once believed that eating fish and meat together was the cause of a terrible skin condition and was extremely dangerous to one’s health.1 As such, the rabbis instituted a prohibition against eating fish and meat together.2 It is forbidden to eat fish and poultry together, as well.3

Although nowadays there are no known health concerns about eating fish and meat together, the ban against doing still applies. This is true even though what was unhealthy in the past may not be unhealthy nowadays and vice versa. In fact, in Talmudic times it was believed that rotten fish was good for you!4 It is noted that the Rambam does not cite the prohibition against eating fish and meat, leading many to believe that he permitted it. So too, some authorities argue that times have changed, and what was unhealthy or dangerous in ancient times might not be so today.5 There is also an opinion that the prohibition against mixing fish and meat only applied to a specific species of fish whose identity is no longer known.6

He then continues with some discussion concerning the relevant “halachot.” Rabbi Enkin would do well to write an article about how there are absolutely no halachic sources indicating that children should be immunized, and therefore those who do not do so to their children have on whom to rely. To present this as a purely halachic issue, “some permit, some prohibit,” is  a farce. In truth all agree to the premise that danger must be avoided, the only argument is whenever this is dangerous. We can excuse 16th centuries halachists for not having the resources to make that determination, but it is entirely indefensible to say that this particular issue is still not clear. Yes. Today we know better. Rabbi Herschel Schachter has said that it is funny how some people make sure never to eat fish and meat together because of the “danger,” but they’ll smoke and drink and eat every form of hydrogenated and sugarized processed poison. Rabbi Enkin, why do you not write the truth, that this idea and so many more pieces of what used to be ancient conventional wisdom has been discredited, and that is why it is not mentioned by Maimonides, and that is why it is not a matter of halacha? Why do you declare that the ban against meat and fish together still applies? When was it banned, and even if it were, on what authority do you make such a declaration? People are dying, babies are dying for crying out loud, because of this conflation of cultural taboos with halacha. They asked Rabbi Schachter why rabbis do  not declare smoking tobacco to be forbidden, and he responded that he does declare it forbidden, and that with regard to these and all similar issues, we should value today’s medical professionals, just like the sages followed theirs. Humanity has learned so much regarding medicine and health, and it’s time to say more. There is much that is forbidden that people believe is permitted, and there is much that is permitted that people believe to be forbidden. If something is discredited, we have to act on that, and if something is proven, we have to act on that too.

Every one who messes with his cell phone, or other such distraction, while driving, is a potential killer.

Every public figure who does not insist on any potential followers getting properly inoculated has their blood on his hands.

Every public figure who proclaims that it is a religious duty to vote for a particular politician (the vast majority of whom are certainly not moral or ethical figures no matter what the their political affiliation) is destroying the Jewish community.

When you see someone about to drive drunk, the halacha says that he must be stopped, even at all costs if necessary, because whether or not he is trying to get behind that wheel with malicious intent, he poses a clear and present danger to innocents others. That’s the sad truth. And that applies even to close family, and even if their way of endangering the lives of others is merely by honoring them with their presence. The Torah prescribes that the inadvertent killer be exiled, and that the lepers be quarantined and removed from society. Those who are anit-vaxxers or who may be harboring the worst infectious diseases need to be removed from contact with others, and then forbidden further contact with society until they mend their ways. Woe to our generation that it has come to this. If you need, I can be the one who will tell your relatives that they are not welcome, but you have to know that they must accept.

I also believe that this Wednesday, the 29th of Marheshwan 5779, should be established as a Jewish National Fast Day to gather in prayer and repentance for the sins of replacing halachic discourse and practice with nonsense such as partisan politics, superstition, and pseudoscience, and neglecting the commandment to do what is in our power to preserve our safety, health, and lives.

 

השינה בסוכה מעין שֶבֶת במקדש

(ההמשך מכאן)

ובהחשב כל, נוכל לתת טעם למה חז׳׳ל החמירו כל כך לגבי השינה בסוכה, ואילו בשאר הלכות מחלקינן בין קבע לארעי, שאכילת ארעי מותרת חוץ לסוכה, והכל לפי העניין, ואפילו בהלכות לבישת התפלין מחלקין בין שינת קבע וארעי, אלא שבעניין שינה בסוכה דינא דמשנה שאין חילוק, ופליגי אמוראי למה מחלקינן בתפלין, והנחת חז׳׳ל בשני תלמודים שיש לישון בסוכה בלא פלוג, אלא אם כן מצטער הוא.

וכמו שהבית היהודי הוא מעין מקדש, ק׳׳ו הסוכה שהוא מעין ענני הכבוד, ובמקרא ובתלמוד הענן שכן על אהל האמהות ועל המשכן ועל בית המקדש, וסימן הוא להשראת השכינה, ובסוכות זוכים לשכון תחת כנפי השכינה. וכאילו שותפים אנו עם הקב׳׳ה, כדבר שנאמר שִׁבְתִּ֣י בְּבֵית־ה׳ כׇּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיַּ֑י לַחֲז֥וֹת בְּנֹעַם־ה׳ וּלְבַקֵּ֥ר בְּהֵֽיכָלֽוֹ כי יצפנני בסכֹה. וראינו שלא ינום ולא יישן שומר ישראל, ואין לשון שינה ותרדמה אצלו, אבל כן יש לשון לחם אצלו, קרבני לחמי לאשי, לחם א-להיו מקדשי הקדשים, לחם א-להיהם הם מקריבים, זֶה הַשֻּׁלְחָן אֲשֶׁר לִפְנֵי ה׳, משלחן גבוהה קא זכי, ושוב יש לשון מנוחה אצלו ית׳, וינח ביום השביעי, זאת מנוחתי עדי עד, קומה הק למנוחתך, אל המנוחה ואל הנחלה, וכו׳,   ומנוחתו אך ורק במקדשו, ואין שני מקדשים בו זמני, למרות שהמקדש נעתק לפעמים, מערבות מואב לגלגל, ומשם לשילה ומשם לנוב ןגבעון, וכו׳, אלא בתקופות מקדשי גלגל נוב וגבעון היה היתר הבמות, ואמרו חז׳׳ל שבבמה גדולה שהיה מזבח המשכן, הקריבו הקרבנות הקבועים, ובמות (הפרטיות) הקריבו הקרבנות שלא היו הקבועין, דהיינו הארעיים. ואתי שפיר, שאפילו הקב׳׳ה בכבודו ובעצמו הקפיד להשרות שכינתו במקום מנוחתו בקביעות, הנה מטתו שלשלמה, אבל את לחמו שהוא הקרבנות, לא הקפיד שיהיה תמיד במקומו, ןאת הקבוע דרש בביתו ואת הארעי קבל מחוצה לו. 

The Importance of Sleeping in the Sukka

The Mishna seemingly assumes that all sleeping must be done in the sukka; the distinction between qeva and arai that exists concerning eating in the sukka is not mentioned, although it is mentioned in the baraithoth, the outtakes of the Mishna, and the conclusion of the Gemara is that indeed, although we can make such a syntactical distinction between qeva and arai, one that would matter with regard to certain laws other activities, including sleeping while wearing t’fillin, in practice and with regard to sleeping in the sukka, there is no such distinction (BT Sukka 26-27). It is no surprise therefore that the codes say that sleeping in the sukka is an obligation during the festival, even if one were to want to sleep for a short period of time outside of the sukka.

(None of this touches on the various dispensations that exist for those who for whatever reason are exempt from sleeping in the sukka due to discomfort, etc.)

Why would sleeping in the sukka be held to a higher standard than eating? Why did the sages assume such importance specifically with regard to sleeping in the sukka?

The answer, I believe, is based on ideas expounded upon earlier in this space. Being that s’chach represents the Clouds of Glory, we can then ask where else or what else served as a base for the Clouds of Glory? In the classic literature, the Tabernacles and Temples and the tent of the matriarchs were marked by the Clouds of Glory that hovered over them, symbolizing the true divine protection that made physical roofs and actual walls unnecessary. Just like the Jewish home is a sanctuary, on the the most joyous holiday of the year, every Jew is bidden, if he can not ascend on the pilgrimage to the Temple, to go a step beyond his own domestic sanctuary and build a sanctuary with the closest materials to the Clouds of Glory, and dwell there for the duration of the holiday.

As we saw earlier, “the Guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers,” and sleep is one inappropriate anthropomorphism that is never used to describe God, but we do find many verses that refer to God resting, as in “He rested on the seventh day,” “where is the place of My rest?” and “arise O Lord to your Your rest, You and Your ark of might,” and “you have yet to come to the resting place and the inheritance,” the latter three being references to the Temple. Similarly, we find the root shin-kaf-nun, to dwell, in words like shechina, the Divine Presence, and many others referring to the Temple.

Further, there are many references to “God’s food.” The sacrifices are called His “bread,” and the priests eat off of the divine table. Yet, although we find that God has only one true resting place where “He causes his presence to reside,” and at any given point in History, God only had only one sanctuary, whether it was Shiloh, or Jerusalem, or elsewhere. However, when the sanctuary was set up in Nov and Gibeon, for example, God did allow some of his sacrifices to be offered outside of the sanctuary on other altars. Indeed, in our sages’s terminology, the sacrifices that had to be offered within those sanctuaries were the ones that had qeva, implying that the ones allowed at the private high places were arai. We therefore have found a precedent showing that even God Himself was more stringent with His resting within His Sanctuary than He was with “eating” within His sanctuary, and the sages may have commuted a similar standard to our performance of the commandment to dwell under the Clouds of Glory.

The Primordial Light of Genesis

The primordial light and darkness can be understood as a parable for good and evil. Clues: God creates light, and although in our physicality darkness is the absence of light, which we know to be made of distinct quanta, the “darkness” seems, according to the plain meaning of the text, to be an entity unto its own, and even once the  light is created, the light and darkness are still mixed up to the extent that God has to “separate” the two, and He describes the light as “good.”

Throughout the rest of the Torah, darkness and light are metaphors for good and evil. The difference between the two is as stark and defined as the difference “between the holy and the profane, the Sabbath and week, and Israel and the nations.” However, in this world, we have the chance to morally obfuscate, to lose our moral compass, to mix the light and darkness. We are therefore bidden to recognize and sanctify these distinctions, and this is what Abraham stood for. Our sages used the imagery of the chaos that existed before the creation of the light to describe world history before the advent of Abraham, who endowed the  world with moral clarity.

טעם (תרתי משמע) איסור חמץ ב׳

ויש עוד להבין שהחמץ אסור בפסח ובמיוחד בשעת הקרבת ואכילת הפסח בגלל שחמץ איסורו על גבי המזבח כל השנה, וכמו שכתבנו שבליל פסח הופכים כל האזרח בישראל לכהן, והכהנים במקדש רק אוכלים מנחות של מצה. ויש לשאול, למה החמץ אסור על גבי המזבח? ויש לחבר שלשה פתגמי חז׳׳ל: מצוה הבאה לידך אל תחמיצנה, וזריזים מקדימים למצוות, וכהנים זריזים הם. שמעינן שהזריזות היא מעלה גדולה בעבודת שמים, וההחמצה היא הפכה. ותמיד מן הראוי להקריב לגבוהה מן המזורז ולא מן החמוץ. ונאמר בכהנים הלויים יורו משפטיך ליעקב ותורתך לישראל, ישימו קטורה באפך וכליל על מזבחך. דהיינו איך הם מורים משפטים ותורה לישראל? תוך עבודת המזבחות, שיש ללמוד איך לקיים את כל מצוות התורה מן דרכם של הכהנים במקדש.